'Warmer soils spew more carbon into air'

Washington, Jan 21 (IANS) Warmer soils spew additional carbon into the atmosphere under the impact of climate change, US research says.

The study, conducted by Serita Frey, professor from the University of New Hampshire and others, throws new light on how soil bugs respond to temperature and could finetune predictions of how warming will affect the carbon dioxide (CO2) flux from soils.

Activities of soil bugs release 10 times the CO2 that human do on a yearly basis. This release of CO2 has been kept in check by plants' absorption of the gas at night time.

However, human activities are potentially upsetting this balance, the journal Nature Climate Change reports.

Frey and co-authors Johan Six and Juhwan Lee of University of California-Davis and Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Lab were curious how increased temperatures due to climate change might alter the amount of carbon released from soils, according to a New Hampshire statement.

"While they're low on the charisma scale, soil microorganisms are so critically important to the carbon balance of the atmosphere," Frey says.

"If we warm the soil due to climate warming, are we going to fundamentally alter the flux of carbon into the atmosphere in a way that is going to feed back to enhance climate change?" Frey adds.

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